A UK company is set to revolutionise the future of commercial air travel with a windowless plane that allows passengers to choose panoramic views of the world around them or swipe a touch screen to surf the internet or check their email from 35,000ft.
Windows would be replaced with ultra-thin and highly-flexible screens that would display outside scenery captured by cameras attached to the plane’s exterior or act as a personal touch screen computer.
The concept is the brainchild of the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and is still in its design phase, but developers believe it could become the world’s first windowless commercial aircraft in the next ten years.
In addition to providing entertainment, the screens fitted directly into the fuselage or into the wall panels, would provide subtle cabin lighting from gently glowing walls and could be switched on or off.
The system could help to offset jet lag as lighting panels would allow passengers to control colour changes associated with sunrise and sunset.
That would help them to adjust to time zone changes on long-haul journeys, according to CPI.
But the screens are not just for the enjoyment of passengers as they are designed to reduce aircraft weight and costs for both airlines and travellers
CPI said the fuselage would be lighter without windows and that would translate into fuel savings, fewer harmful emissions and lower operating costs for airlines.
Ultimately it could mean lower fares and wider seats for passengers.
For every one per cent reduction in weight the approximate fuel saving is 0.75 per cent.
Even though they are incredibly futuristic CPI believes the screens could be produced at a cost that is unlikely to be any more than current displays.
The company said it will take around five years before the screens, using organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), are ready for full production.
Based in north-east England, CPI is a member of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which is aimed at spurring development in new and emerging technologies.
With government funding CPI works with firms to create new products, including the OLED screens at its facility in Sedgefield, County Durham.